UA's 'Native Eyes' Showcase Will Highlight Native American Films
Two feature length documentaries and three short films by Native American filmmakers will be shown for free during the showcase.

Rebecca Ruiz-McGill
Oct. 22, 2007

The work of Native American directors, producers, writers and actors will be celebrated in "The Native Eyes Film Showcase," an event being held by the Arizona State Museum and The University of Arizona's Hanson Film Institure in early November.

This year’s film showcase includes three short films and two feature length documentaries from a collection housed at the Smithsonian Institution's Film and Video Center of the National Museum of the American Indian. They include “Miss Navajo,” which won an award at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, and “Mohawk Girls."

“Each of the featured filmmakers has used the cinema as a tool for discovery,” says Vicky Westover, program director for the UA Hanson Film Institute. “The showcase provides an exciting opportunity for Tucsonans to meet the filmmakers, watch their work and to share in their journeys.”

The showcase begins Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. with screenings of the short films “Memory in Bones,” directed by Gail Maurice of the Metis tribe, “By the Rapids,” directed by Joseph Lazare of the Mohawk tribe, and “Mohawk Girls,” directed by Tracey Deer, who is also of the Mohawk tribe.

On Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. the showcase begins with the film “Conversion,” directed by Nanobah Becker, who is Navajo, and the feature documentary “Miss Navajo,” directed by William Luther, who is Navajo/Hopi/Laguna Pueblo.

All of the movies will be shown at the Grand Cinemas Crossroads, 4811 E. Grant Road, and are free.

The films look at experiences within the Navajo and Mohawk nations and deal with issues such as the impact of Christian missionaries and life on the reservation for young women.

Special guests during the screenings include directors Becker, Deer and Luther. Speakers include UA alumna Sierra Ornelas, who is Navajo and works at the Film and Video Center at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Indian.

The showcase also features a media literacy workshop for Native American teens, which will be held in collaboration with the Tohono O’odham Nation Cultural Center and Museum for reservation high school students. The workshop includes films clips and discussion with Deer and Ornelas.

Nov. 7 Schedule

"Memory in Bones" (2005, 3 min.)
Director: Gail Maurice (Métis)
In a thoughtful, poetic collage, the filmmaker affirms her identity as a "strong Indian woman."

"By the Rapids" (2005, 4 min.)
Director: Joseph Lazare (Mohawk)
Lazare takes a teen's view in an animation about going from the city to visit relatives on the reserve.

"Mohawk Girls" (2005, 63 min.)
Director: Tracey Deer (Mohawk)
Produced by: Rezolution Pictures and the National Film Board of Canada
With insight, humor and compassion, the filmmaker provides an insider's look at life on the Kahnawake reserve, just across the St. Lawrence River from Montreal. Portraits of three young Mohawk women at the threshold of adulthood reveal their hopes and heartaches and the challenges of growing up Kanienkeha:ka.

Nov. 8 Schedule

"Conversion" (2006, 8 min.)
United States
Producer: Courtney Schmidt
Director: Nanobah Becker (Navajo)
Actors: Charmaine Jackson-John, Simone Frazier, Deidra Castillo
In Navajo with English subtitles
In a remote corner of the Navajo nation, circa 1950, a visit by Christian missionaries has catastrophic consequences for a family.

“Miss Navajo” (2006, 60 min.)
United States
Director: William Luther (Navajo/Hopi/Laguna Pueblo)
No ordinary beauty pageant, the Miss Navajo Nation competition requires contestants to answer tough historical questions in the Navajo language and showcase traditional knowledge. The filmmaker, whose mother was crowned Miss Navajo in 1966, goes along on one contender's journey and interviews winners from the past five decades. The event's sacred dimension also emerges – young women are joining a matriarchal continuum that goes back to creation and the first Diné life-giving ancestor, Changing Woman.

Extra info


The Native Eyes Film Showcase


Grand Cinemas Crossroads, 4811 E. Grant Road


Nov. 7-8, 7 p.m.

Screenings are free and open to the public


Resources for the media

Lisa Falk
Director of Education
Arizona State Museum


Vicky Westover
Program Director
Hanson Film Institute


Nanobah Beck


Billy Luther


Tracy Deer
(Canada) 514-777-8759


Sierra Ornelas